Bad Influence Mom

A little back story: in the early nineties, when I was in college, I went on a ski trip to Colorado. We have relatives who live out there and at the time of our visit, a young cousin was training as a ski jumper. We went over to the practice hill to watch him. He wasn’t doing anything like the 90 or 120 meter hills you see in the Olympics, just 20 meters.

It looked like fun, and I wanted to try. I built up from the 5 meter hill to the 10, then 15 and finished with one jump off the 20 meter hill. The measurement denotes the inrun, or how far you go straight before launching off the end into the air. 20 meters, more than 60 feet, was pretty scary and after I landed I decided I’d had enough ski jumping. Still it was great fun. When I got back to school and told my rowing teammates about it, they were very upset. I could have gotten hurt! I could have been out for the entire spring racing season! Etc. etc. None of that had occurred to me, of course. It just seemed really cool to go off the jumps and fly (a very little) in the air.

The present day, Ollie’s getting pretty good at skiing, and he likes to find jumps. So this past weekend I’d find little lips and ridges on the trails and tell him to follow me. One had a backside of ice, which I only realized after I skidded across it. Ollie slid and fell. Another apparently was too big for him, because my mom saw him approach and then decide against it, even after I’d gone off. But there were plenty that were great for him, and he got a little air and the thrill of jumping.

Maybe I’m reckless and dumb. Maybe I should be more cautious. Maybe I could have gotten hurt going off the 20 meter ski jump at Winter Park and ruined the spring racing season for myself and my crew. But I guess I don’t think that way. And more importantly, I don’t want to think that way. I don’t want to be the kind of Mom that’s always worried, saying “don’t do that!” The stereotype is the mom has the common sense and it’s the dad that’s pushing the kid to do the crazy stunts. Maybe it’s some weird rebel/feminist thing I’ve got, but I want to be the bad influence mom. In the best way possible, of course.

Here’s Ollie going off a jump at Mad River on Sunday:

I couldn’t be prouder!

6 thoughts on “Bad Influence Mom

  1. I have an almost 5 year old daughter. I feel it is so important for her to see that Mom’s can do things like sled, ski, run, and be crazy. Why would we expect our kids to try things or take risks if they never see us do it? From my perspective as a mom to a girl, I feel it is even more important for her to see girls doing these things and not just dads or boys. Love this post. Thanks.

  2. Great post. I wonder if you’ve heard of Lenore Skenazy and her “Free Range Kids”? She calls the constant worriers “helicopter parents” because they hover over their kids constantly.
    She wrote a book about it – here’s an Amazon link .
    which started from a column she wrote about letting her 10-year old son ride the subway.

  3. Well done Meg, you can’t wrap kids up in cotton wool and rose coloured glasses. They need to able to have fun. If they get bumps and scratches and bruises they know Mum and Dad are their for the TLC and the hugs etc. While he’s enjoying it, its fantastic for all concerned.

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